10 Stephen King Movie Adaptations, Ranked (According To Rotten Tomatoes)


The King of Horror has ruled shelves and screens around the world for nearly half a century. Stephen King’s terrifying tales with all the storytelling elements successfully intertwined are something the literary world has never seen before. Some of the king’s most chilling human villains in his stories surpass even the most flawless demonic and paranormal entities.

Related: 5 Adaptations Stephen King Loves (& 5 He Dislikes)

It’s no surprise that film adaptations of his stories have also gone down in movie history, and new movies and TV series always seem to be in production. The movies on this list are the highest-rated adaptations of King’s novels, according to rotten tomatoes.

ten Doctor Sleep (2019) – 78%

Danny Torrance in The Shining and Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep is a sequel to King’s infamous novel, the brilliant. It follows adult Danny Torrence (Ewan McGregor) after he tries to get his life back. He bonds with a young girl, Abra, through the Shining ability they both have. When the two discover a group of nomads called The True Knot, who consume the Shining out of others without mercy, killing them, they must team up to defeat them.

The film is directed by Mike Flanagan of the hit Netflix miniseries The Haunting of Hill House. Rebecca Ferguson hauntingly plays The True Knot frontman Rose the Hat. For a sequel whose release took so long after the original, the success of Doctor Sleep highlights King’s talent.

9 1408 (2007) – 79%

John Cusack and Robert Downey Jr. in 1408

According to a short story from King, 1408 centers on a best-selling author, Mike Enslin (John Cusack), whose fame comes from demystifying paranormal phenomena. He checks into the Dolphin Hotel to investigate the supposed hauntings in room 1408. Being the doubter, Mike abruptly ignores the warnings of the hotel manager played by Samuel L. Jackson.

Related: 10 Essential Stephen King Stories Better Than The Movies

As anyone familiar with King’s works can guess, the haunting is very real and Mike is subjected to intense psychological torture. It’s a classic tale of how closed-mindedness can have devastating effects and the film captures that message beautifully.


8 Dolores Claiborne (1995) – 84%

Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kathy Bates in Dolores Claiborn

In her first of two appearances, Kathy Bates plays the lead role in Dolores Claiborne. Having Bates as the lead actress is enough to attract many moviegoers due to her flawless versatility and talent.

This film features Bates playing the mother of Selena (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a reporter who returns home after learning that Dolores has been arrested for the murder of an elderly woman. Dolores’ connection to the victim by being his housekeeper fuels suspicion and results in a great murder mystery film.

seven The Shining (1980) – 84%

Jack Torrence in The Shining, stumbling through the frozen hedge maze, looking exhausted and angry

Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the brilliant became a staple of movie history for what happened on camera and behind the scenes. Kubrick’s tales of verbal abuse of the cast, primarily Shelley Duvall (Wendy Torrance), are enough to keep people watching him again today.

Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the terrifying Jack Torrance and quotes like “Here’s Johnny!” have haunted many nightmares since its 1980 debut and is unquestionably one of King’s films with the best re-watching value. As controversial as Kubrick’s techniques are, the film’s final product is unrivaled for its complexity and fear-inducing ability.

6 IT: Chapter One (2017) – 86%

That's why Derry is damn pennywise

Everyone’s favorite clown, Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), hit the big screens in September 2017 with a ton of anticipation. Audiences were able to dive into the sewers of Derry and chase red balloons as the evil entity terrorized The Losers.

Andy Muschietti(Mum) directed this film and the sequel, IT: Chapter 2 (2019), but the first part ranked much higher with fans. The two-part 1990 TV miniseries starring Tim Curry as Pennywise had to hold back the brutality of the original story through censorship. This 21st century revival gave longtime King fans the adaptation they deserved.

5 The Dead Zone (1983) – 90%

Dead Zone Cry Plant Cover

Before The dead zone became a television series in the early 2000s, it was adapted for the big screen in 1983 and starred none other than Christopher Walken in the lead role. No wonder this movie has a 90% score after all these years with director David Cronenberg (Fly) at its head.

Walken played Johnny Smith, a non-horrifying big King character, who woke up from a five-year coma resulting from a car accident to find he had developed psychic abilities. While he thought this new ability was a gift at first, he soon realized that his life had just become much more complicated and dangerous.

4 Misery (1990) – 90%

Stephen Kings' Most Underrated Adaptation Misery

Of course, Kathy Bates’ other appearance has to be as the ultimate fangirl, Annie Wilkes in Misery. When fate leads Annie to reunite with her favorite author, Paul Sheldon (James Caan), injured in a car crash during a snowstorm, she takes him in and expects it to be so. Inducing claustrophobia and isolation, audiences truly felt trapped in this haunting film.

Related: 10 Surprisingly Wholesome Stephen King Moments

The on-screen chemistry of Bates and Caan made the story even more alive and, in turn, all the more terrifying. Directed by Rob Reiner, the film also won Bates an Academy Award for Best Actress.

3 Support Me (1986) – 91%

Stand By Me Boys on a car / in the woods

support me was based on King’s short story “The Body” and is perhaps one of his most tame tales. However, it still brings a kind of darkness and horror. The story focuses on a writer recounting how he and his friends discovered the body of a missing boy after a friend of theirs died.

Another fantastic adaptation and the one that is most faithful to the source material, support me is also directed by Rob Reiner. The boy band the story centers around includes stars River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Wil Wheaton and Jerry O’Connell.

2 The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – 91%

Collage of Tommy, Andy and Red in The Shawshank Redemption.

Using the original plot of King’s short novel, “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption”, this film has remained a classic drama since its release in 1994. Two men who are incarcerated in the name prison for several years. This deep story of redemption by finding humanity in an otherwise primitive environment lasts 2.5 hours.

The film was directed by Frank Darabont and stars Tim Robbins and the iconic Morgan Freeman. Although he didn’t win an Oscar at home, The Shawshank Redemption was nominated for 7 Oscars, including Best Picture and Freeman for Best Actor.

1 Carrie (1976) – 93%

carrie sissy blood

Carrie holding King’s top-rated adaptation is still fitting because it’s based on his first published novel of the same name. The story of powerful psychic Carrie White and her tyrannical mother is legendary, and the 1976 film quenched fans’ bloodlust with director Brian De Palma.

Sissy Spacek played the prolific title character and the setting of her drenched in pig’s blood at her prom will forever go down in cinematic history. The carnage Carrie inflicts on her date (John Travolta) and her classmates set a precedent for gore in movies and fueled the birth of slasher films during this time.

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